Hibiscus Sherbet with Roasted Fennel, Candied Pistachios, and Rosewater
Watermelon Snow with Fresh Watermelon and Lemon Basil Whipped Cream
Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwich with Chocolate Brownie Cookie
This dessert is the first one that I have created where I wanted it to be eaten in a certain order. Normally, I get really annoyed when people tell me how to eat something, but I do understand that there are some circumstances when a certain order is necessary, especially when, as in this case, a dessert consists of separate bites that should not be eaten together. The first bite, the one that sits on the far left, is almost savory and should be eaten first. It is to be followed by the bite in the top right that is more of a palate cleanser than a dessert. The final bite is a true dessert. Because parts of this dish were designed to function likes courses of a meal, I felt some direction was necessary.
In a dish like this there needs to be some element that ties all of the bites together. Normally it would be one ingredient, and each section would show off a different preparation or aspect of that item. This dish was a little different because the cohesion was provided by a frozen, pink element in each part.
I didn’t initially start out trying to produce a dish with a semi-savory course, but the pink hibiscus that I piped into small tubes was so tangy that it needed some earthy flavors to balance it out. I chose fennel bulb, which I pan roasted until it was fairly soft. Although this was probably not the most successful way of preparing the fennel, it was all I had time for, and cooking it this way deepens the licorice flavor. I tossed the fennel in rose water and simple syrup like a salad and added in candied pistachio nuts. This was then topped with the cylinder of hibiscus sherbet that looked lovely on top of the grayed-green bed of fennel. I thought that the flavors came together really well and that the combination was still sweet enough to be considered dessert.
The mid course on this plate serves to cleanse the palate between the savory and the dessert. It is two pieces of thinly cut fresh watermelon topped with a lightly sweetened lemon-basil whipped cream and watermelon snow. To make the watermelon snow, I pureed a watermelon and then strained it. I froze the juice in a container, as it froze the impurities and sugar drifted to the bottom and to the center. It was these sweeter more watermelon-y sections that I scraped with a fork to make the snow. Normally, I wouldn’t add anything as heavy as whipped cream to a palate cleanser; however, the lemon and the basil offset the fat, making the combination light and refreshing.
The final, dessert, section is perhaps one of the greatest things I have made so far. The cookie part of the sandwich is basically a triple chocolate brownie batter with just enough additional flour to provide structure. This was baked until it just set but still a little gooey and soft. These were stuffed with house-made strawberry ice cream containing chunks of real strawberry. I was so excited about these when I made them that I fed them to many of the kitchen staff as a treat.
I was very happy with the way that the elements of this plate came together. It has a semi-cohesive theme, good flavors, and a clear sense of progression. However, I did learn one valuable lesson: a great way to annoy your coworkers is to leave them on a busy Sunday night with a difficult and annoying new dessert to plate. Sorry L!!!